Bushfoods & Bush Medicine

While we live in Gawler, most of our knowledge and experience with bushfoods comes from our Ngarrindjeri friends way down South on the Coorong.

For that, I’m indebted to Uncles Neville Gollan, George and Tom Trevorrow who shared their knowledge freely on many a walk and chat around the campfire. They taught me how to look at the bush and all of its interconnections and that it isn’t just a collection of plants and animals or even ecosystems but a continuum extending through time. Sadly, they’re all deceased now.

What I do know about the local plants from a Kaurna perspective was shared with me by Aunties Cherie Watkins and Veronica Brodie. Another great source of knowledge and inspiration has been our friend and ecologist extraordinaire Joan Gibbs, who taught me how to see the bush more clearly.

To their knowledge, I can add to information that I’ve followed up on, academically, by looking at both old writings from explorers, priests, anthropologists and their ilk.

The information on these pages remains a whitefella’s take on the plants covered. I can only touch on the perspective of our First Nations folks and lack the lifetime of connection that comes from being born of Country.

Please note that I am a self taught herbalist and forager. I have a BASc in Environmental Management in which I focused on Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Aboriginal Ethnography. I have no formal qualifications in this field beyond those. These pages are more to inspire you to take up your own research and exploration and not are not intended to be prescriptive. In the case of illness, see a licensed healer.

The Ngarrindjeri and Kaurna names included for some of the plants are by no means comprehensive, they’re just what I’ve learned in my excursions and from doing a little reading here and there. It goes without saying that such rich cultural groups have many, many other words and names for vital parts of their tradition and culture. I’ll certainly add more as I learn them.

We’re always learning about our botanic community, taking new pics and meeting folks who know a lot more than we do, so keep checking your favourite plants on these pages. There’s always more to come!

Flowering times are approximate. Plants don’t take a lot of notice of calendars and the changes in our climate are mixing things up a bit. The times we’ve given are from our own experience.

You can learn more about other useful, imported, wild plants here on our ‘Wild foods & medicines‘ and ‘Other useful plants‘ pages.

Our ecosystems are increasingly fragile, especially since the huge bushfires last year, so I encourage only foraging, snacking and learning.

Note: It can be illegal to harvest from the wild without the appropriate permit or licence. Different councils, however, have different rules and regulations on the matter, so check with them before you go out.

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